Tuesday – Back in the game
We are speeding towards the end of April and it’s been quiet here at this space.
That’s because I’ve been living a wild, yet completely different life at home in the Netherlands over the past weeks. I will not bore you with all the Holland-adventures, as it was not the bushlife at all. Let’s just say that it was beyond amazing to see all the beautiful people who continue to be a huge part of my life even though I don’t see them as much as I would like to.
Thank you my friends and family. Words cannot express how much I have enjoyed and appreciated the chats, laughs, cries, dances (night and day), eating, drinking, working, exercising, staying, organising parties, smoking, singing, chilling, cuddling, cycling, taxi-ing, getting rained on, plan-making, fishing, (beach)walking, shopping and/or making friends with you all. As incredible as Liuwa is, it’s always very hard to leave the home-country to go back to the plains.
We got back to Zambia last Friday and after 2 crazy days in Lusaka, we moved on to the ever amazing Kafue NP for another 2 nights at Ila Lodge. We arrived in Mongu, town of sand and Shoprite, today. 2 more sleeps and some important stuff before we get back to the park!
Wednesday – Passed
Good news! I now own an A4-sized piece of paper that says I am capable of driving on the Zambian roads. To get it I had to pass a few tests.
First of all, the medical examination. After finally finding the right office and paying some kwacha, we were sat down to answer questions:
‘Are you healthy?’ – Yes
‘Do you wear glasses or contacts?’ – No
*Scribble Scribble* PASSED.
Then, to get the driving tests sorted, we went to RTSA (Road Traffic and Safety Agency) in February where we got a provisional license (another A4 piece of paper). We got exempted for the dreaded ‘cones test’ and were told we could come back to make an appointment for a driving test after 5 days but within 3 months. With Holland-plans on the cards, we decided to deal with driving tests after our holiday. So… Today.
The appointment was made yesterday, a car was organised (you have to bring your own car for the driving test) and this morning we went to RTSA again, our feelings pingponging between nervous and confident. We had heard different stories about it either being super easy or potentially running into trouble because failing the test would mean more money for some parties.
When everything was set and after ensuring everyone that I, as a woman, am perfectly capable of driving a manual, I took the wheel first. After explaining what the 4x4 gear stick is for (hooray for so much 4x4 experience) I could drive off. With the assessor next to me and Daan in the back, I was asked to drive, take a few turns, conquer Mongu’s only roundabout and then stop after 10 minutes to swap places with Daan, who resumed the same kind of process. Upon return at RTSA we were told by the assessor that we had driven excellently, but… Made a few mistakes. Those mistakes mainly had to do with not using the hazard lights enough, Zambians absolutely love their hazards. But luckily, the ‘mistakes’ were often seen at the test because, as it turns out, no one actually does it the right way. So with a handshake and a promise of a ‘temporary license’ we were waved goodbye and asked to come back in the afternoon.
Upon return in the afternoon we signed a few things and were then handed the famous A4. At some point we will be asked to come and collect the actual license, which is a card. But the card printing machine has been broken since October, so we don’t expect it any time soon.
Thursday – Home sweet home
22.30 hrs: Woke up this morning in Mongu. An hour packing, half an hour food-shopping, an hour taxi-ing, another half an hour market shopping, a 6-hour wait in Kalabo, an hour pontoon crossing and 4 hours bouncing up and down in the trailer of the tractor later, we are now back in Matiamanene. Finally HOME! Saw some hyenas on the way in and I almost cried, it’s been nearly 9 weeks since I’ve seen my favourites.
The rains have been heavy this season and so at the end of April, the park is still not accessible in anything other than a tractor. The Luanginga river is super high and all that remains of the trees that are normally perched on the bank of said river is a little crown, sticking out of the water like a shrub.
Upon return we have found a few surprises. Surprisingly, for example, not everything got mouldy during our absence, I’ve got Daan to thank for super effective packing, fighting the mould successfully.
Also, there are frogs everywhere. They literally come from all corners and gaps. And… My Aloe plant has a FLOWER!!!
Although it's always a bit difficult after such a long time, it's good to be back in the bush :)